Contributed photo — A gray whale lob-tails in Possession Sound last April.

First Saratoga gray whale spotted

  • Sat Mar 4th, 2017 8:00am
  • News

It’s nearing that time of year when the waters off Whidbey Island become a temporary home for gray whales looking for food for the spring months.

However, Langley’s Orca Network reported an early arrival on Tuesday.

The first of the North Puget Sound gray whales, also known as the Saratoga grays, was spotted feeding at the intertidal flats at the mouth of Port Susan, near Tulalip, in the early afternoon. The whales return each year to feed on ghost shrimp in the mud flats surrounding Whidbey, Camano and Hat Islands and near Everett and Tulalip.

Orca Network believes it’s the first of many to arrive, although it acknowledges it may be gray whale 723, the first confirmed to arrive last year that “may have never left.”

The whales bring tourism to South Whidbey, as tour groups regularly depart from Langley Marina to catch them spy-hopping, or poking their heads out of the water, and lob-tailing, where their tail breaches and smacks against the water as they dive to feed on shrimp.